Despite Delta Variant Scare, Teller County Officials Won’t Impose New Mask Mandates

Slight Spike Reported In COVID Cases; But Vaccination Rates Increasing

Trevor Phipps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week changed its national recommendations for protective masks as COVID-19 cases rose in certain parts of the country.

For some time, the CDC said that people who are fully vaccinated did not need to wear masks indoors, but unvaccinated people still should follow this practice.

This change in stance could impact state and local measures, which are often influenced by the CDC findings. As a result, this could set the stage for more COVID-related restrictions.

Now, due to cases of the Delta variant increasing across the country, the CDC recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in certain parts of the country that have high levels of the virus. And, according to the CDC’s metrics, Teller and El Paso counties are both places on the list in which wearing masks indoors is recommended ,whether people are vaccinated or not.

 Local officials and leaders, though, are saying “not so fast” regarding the prospects of  adding more COVID-19 restrictions.

As for El Paso County, leaders have not made a move to require masks or not. In Teller County, the board of commissioners have made it clear they don’t intend on placing any masking requirements or further imposing COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are just holding tight,” Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker said. “We are still sticking with if you feel you need to wear a mask to protect yourself, please do. But we are not doing any local public health orders and no mandates, more respect yourself and protect yourself.”

In Teller, the daily case count of the virus has remained under 10 for quite some time. Since the pandemic started, the county has recorded 1,973 positive cases and 18 deaths.

Since March 2020, the county has seen a total of 144 hospitalizations. As of July 26, there was one current hospitalization that occurred on July 25.

The seven day case count has stayed pretty low for the last month, but recently spiked last week. Last Tuesday, the county health department reported that the seven day case count had risen to 22 or 112 per 100,000 people.

The positivity rate has also been increasing in the last couple of weeks from local testing sites. Between July 18 and 24 the positivity rate in Teller County was 6.84 percent, which was a jump from 2.1 percent from the previous week.

At the county health department’s community test site, they examined 30 people between July 18 and 25 and had eight positive tests (26.6%). This Increase in a positivity rate was cited as one area of  concern, based on a report given by Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris, a member of county’s COVID -19 task force.

The week before, the testing site 16 people and had two positive tests or 12.5 percent.

 However, despite rising cases the number of people getting vaccinated is steadily rising each week, according to local officials. According to health department data, 49.74 percent of the eligible population in the county has been fully vaccinated.

Although the number is not as high as many local leaders would like, it did increase nearly 1 percent from the previous week. Between July 19 and 26, the county and other providers administered over 90 first doses of the vaccine.

According to Decker, county officials have discussed possible ways to increase the number of people vaccinated. “We are trying everything we can think of,” Decker said. “But the big thing is we are just trying to get the accurate information out about the vaccines. And we are encouraging people to get one and making it as easy as possible to do that.”

As an extra incentive statewide, people who get the vaccine at certain locations will receive a $100 gift card to Walmart. To learn about vaccine information and places where you can receive the COVID-19 protective shots, visit